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Alex Robertson
By Alex Robertson on November 05, 2023

The Squash Glossary - A Comprehensive Guide To Squash Lingo

I remember one of the first things I noticed when I started coaching large groups of juniors was just how much squash lingo there is.

Especially with the beginner groups, I would find myself having to explain a lot of the words I was using. Of course, this was a shortcoming of mine as a new coach and, to improve, I quickly figured out different and simpler ways to explain things to new players.

One of the approaches I took was to do squash quizzes where I would say a squash word to the group, and then let them explain the definition of that word back to me. I would also do the reverse and say the definition first, letting them figure out the word I was looking for.

I was never short of words to ask for definitions for, so, when I found myself thinking about this the other day, I decided that it would be a good idea to write up a kind of 'squash glossary' with as many terms as possible on it...

Now, it is likely that many of you will know a lot of these terms already, but hopefully, it will be helpful in one way or another. I would say that this will be most beneficial to players who are newer to the sport (or maybe haven't played before at all).

But, this isn't about standard, in many cases, players may have just never heard a particular squash word before.

A personal example for me is that, up until my 5th or 6th year playing squash, I thought that a 'trickle boast' was called a 'triple boast', and I thought that this meant it hit all three walls before hitting the floor.

In this particular case, I was wrong about the word and its definition!

So, I hope this squash glossary will be of some help to you all!

I will keep these definitions as short, sweet, and simple as possible, but will also make sure that they are understandable.

This 'glossary' is in alphabetical order too, so, if you hear a word that you don't know, you can find it and learn it easily.

Backhand - A shot hit with the side of the racquet that aligns with the back of your hand. If you are right-handed, backhands are hit from the left side of the court, and vice-versa for left-handed players.

Bagel - Winning a game without your opponent scoring any points, typically with a score of 11-0 (if you are playing up to 11).

Boast - A shot that rebounds off the side wall before reaching the front wall. There are a few types of boast, the three-wall boast that hits the side wall then the front wall then the side wall before hitting the floor, the two-wall boast that hits the side wall then the front wall, and then bounces, the trickle boast is a deceptive two wall boast played at the front of the court, and, the skid boast is hit hard and high from the back and hits the side wall then the front wall then travels cross court to the back of the court.

Bumper - The rubber or plastic strip at the top of the racquet's frame that helps protect the frame and strings from the impacts of the wall and floor (not all racquets come with a bumper).

Championship Point - The point from which the serving player has the opportunity to win the entire tournament.

Conduct Game - The referee's decision to penalise a player by awarding a game to their opponent for misconduct or rule violations during a game. Generally occurs after a player has already received two conduct strokes.

Conduct Match - The referee's decision to penalise a player by awarding the entire match to their opponent for misconduct or rule violations during a game. Generally occurs after a player has already received a conduct game.

Conduct Stroke - A decision made by the referee during a rally to award a point to one player due to a rule violation from the other player. A player is usually given a conduct warning before receiving a conduct stroke, however, if the misconduct is severe enough, the referee may jump straight to a stroke at their discretion.

Conduct Warning - A warning issued by the referee for misconduct during a match, this can lead to further penalties if a player displays more misconduct.

Corkscrew - A shot generally played from near the middle of the court that hits high and close to the corner of the front wall. The corkscrew hits the front wall first and then the side wall straight after and travels diagonally deep into the back corner with some deceptive spin on it too.

Crosscourt - A shot that travels diagonally across to the other side of the court. You can hit a cross-court drive that lands in the back corner on the other side of the court, or, a cross-court drop that lands in the front corner on the other side of the court.

Double Bounce - This occurs when the ball bounces twice before a player returns it, resulting in a point for the opponent.

Double Hit - An illegal shot where the ball is struck twice by the same player in one swing, leading to a loss of the rally.

Down - A term used to indicate that the ball has hit the tin, resulting in a point for the opponent.

Drive - A straight shot (hit with soft, medium, or hard pace) that travels parallel to the side wall, aimed at keeping the opponent at the back of the court and maintaining position on the T. The drive is arguably the most commonly played shot in squash and you should aim to get it to cling tight to the side wall.

Drop Shot - A softly hit shot that lands very low down on the front wall (just above the tin) and also bounces very close to the front wall. The aim of the drop shot is to force the opponent to cover a short distance quickly.

Dummy - A deceptive move in which a player swings and pretends to hit their shot but doesn't actually play it. They would then usually actually hit their shot on the second swing.

Foot Fault - When a player's foot touches or is completely outside of the service box lines during a serve, resulting in a point for the opponent.

Forehand - A shot hit with the side of the racquet that aligns with the palm or inside of your hand. If you are right-handed, forehands are hit from the right side of the court, and vice-versa for left-handed players.

Game Ball (or Game Point) - The point from which the serving player has the opportunity to win a game in a match.

Ghost - Ghosting refers to a drill when a player is training and working on their movement. This exercise is done by re-creating the movements that you make from the T into each corner of the court during a match, but doing so without a ball.

Grip - The grip is located on the handle of a racquet and is where the player holds it. The word 'grip' can refer to the physical material wrapped around the handle, but, it can also refer to how a player is actually holding their racquet.

Half Volley - A shot made by hitting the ball immediately after it bounces once.

Kill Shot - A kill aims to be a winning shot and is generally hit very low and hard (either straight or cross court). The kill shot should bounce twice very fast, minimising your opponent's chances of getting to it.

Let (Yes Let or No Let) - A let is when the rally is stopped and the point is played again due to interference. If you have a referee, they will make this decision, if you don't, then it is up to you to decide if the decision is a let or a stroke.

Lob - A high, arcing shot that travels deep into the back of the court, typically used to buy time or force the opponent to the back of the court. The lob is most often played from the front of the court, however, it is also played from the back a lot too. It can be played straight or cross court.


Photo credit: Steve Cubbins

Match Ball (or Match Point) - The point from which the serving player has the opportunity to win the entire match.

Nick - The meeting point of the side wall floor is known as the "nick." Skilled players aim to hit the nick which results in the ball rolling out, making it virtually impossible for their opponents to return.

Out of Court - When the ball goes outside the boundaries of the court, it's considered out of court, and the point is awarded to the opponent. If a ball hits the red line or above, it is classed as out of court.

Racquet - The equipment used by players to hit the squash ball. Racquets come in various shapes, sizes, and weights.

Racquet Head - The rounded top part of the racquet which includes the strings and the frame.

Racquet Throat - The middle part of the racquet, which connects the head to the grip. It contributes to the racquet's stability and control.

Rally - A sequence of shots exchanged between players, starting with a serve. The rally continues until one player wins a point by hitting a winning shot or the rally ends due to a rule violation or out-of-bounds play.

Scoop - A scoop is a type of double hit, where the ball stays on the racquet string bed for too long during a player's shot, leading to a loss of the rally.

Serve - The opening shot of each rally, performed by the server, who strikes the ball from the service box into the front wall. It must be delivered under specific rules.

Service Box - The area of the court where the server must hit the ball from when starting a rally. There is a service box on either side of the court and players must have one foot fully inside it when they serve.

Service Line - The line in the middle of the front wall. The serve must hit above the service line when starting the rally, then, after this, the service line isn't important.

Short - If a serve lands 'short', this means it did not bounce behind the line across the middle section of the court (the front line of the service box).

Shot - A general term referring to any time a player hits the ball in a rally.

Strings - The interconnected strands in the racquet head that come into contact with the ball when striking it. String pattern density and tension can affect things like power and accuracy.

Stroke - When a player is awarded the point due to significant interference.

Sudden Death - If a game is being played up to 11 points, sudden death occurs at 10-10 when the next player to win a point wins that game. If you are not playing sudden death then you will be playing two clear points.

The 'T' - The point in the middle of the court where the short line meets the centre line is often referred to simply as the 'T' (due to its T shape). It is a crucial position on the court, strategically located to reach all corners of the court as fast as possible. Players aim to dominate the 'T' to control rallies and maintain good positioning.

Tight - Describes a shot that is difficult for an opponent to return because it hugs the side wall, making it hard to reach.

Tin - The bottom portion of the front wall is often referred to as the "tin." Hitting the tin results in a point awarded to the opponent, and the rally ends. The tin is often made from a different material to the rest of the court and makes a louder noise when it is hit so you can be sure the shot is out.

Two Clear Points - A rule that requires a player to win a point by at least two clear points to secure the game. If the score reaches 10-10, the game continues until one player leads by two clear points (e.g. 12-10 or 13-11).

Volley - A shot where you hit the ball before it bounces on the floor. Volleys are often executed on the T or closer to the front wall to limit an opponent's time to react.

This article was taken from our On The 'T' Newsletter, if you're interested in receiving more content like this, please feel free to sign up using the subscribe section located at the bottom left of this page (or underneath the article if you're on mobile), thanks!

Published by Alex Robertson November 5, 2023
Alex Robertson